have a question for you. I’m going to try and offer it up in an
extremely basic fashion, and then we can walk around a bit and
take a look from a few different angels.
you care about politics?
it. Do you care about politics?
the surface, it seems like a pretty simple question. A yes-or-no
most people, the quick-and-dirty-and-far-too-easy answer is no.
huge chunk of the eligible population in the United States doesn’t
vote in elections. If we can agree—and honestly, this idea isn’t
even open for debate—that many people that do vote are doing so
because they can, know they should, and care enough about the
can and should that they do, but haven’t done any research into
the candidates or issues and don’t pay much attention to the news
and so on… then yeah, the answer is no.
down and around this corner and that corner, it seems like a pretty
simple question. And yet it can be seen as a question offered
with hidden meanings and potential punchlines. Still, since you
more likely than not don’t remember the names of all the local
candidates you selected, or all the special items involved on
your last ballot… yup… it’s a no.
some, politics can be incredibly serious, while for others it
is an extreme joke. Even with both cases, a large chunk of people
don’t actually care about politics so much as it is an acknowledgement
of the role politics plays in daily life.
ago—and we’ll say years without calling it two or thirty or something
in between, to prevent any specifics that don’t really matter
on the path we’re using—I was having a discussion with a handful
of friends. Something had happened in the news, making politics
a momentary conversation topic in a very casual over-a-cup-of-coffee
setting. And according to this person, the only thing that mattered
when it came to politicians were the results that involved investments
short… 401k… goes up, and this friend will tell you that politics
are being handled quite nicely… goes down, politics are bad bad
is within this idea that we find our true answer to the politics
and caring question. A different answer. Because, we actually
all care. The trick is, each of us cares about something different.
opportunities… immigration scenarios… the largest and smallest
of issues matters to someone. If you don’t think politics might
matter to everyone, stand next to a homeowner when they open the
letter delivering the news that their property taxes have gone
question isn’t whether or not you care about politics. You do.
We can find an issue that matters. Which means the question is
why. Why do you care about politics?
as I can’t get all of you to care that a favorite television show
of mine has been cancelled, the reality is we will never come
to an agreement on all aspects of politics. Can’t happen. Too
many diverse interests and too many differing opinions. For the
most part, I would argue that those differences are healthy and
what makes the opportunities of the system in America great. But
that doesn’t mean I don’t believe there are problems.
biggest issue I tend to worry about is the kind action-reaction-walk-away
approach from many people. It’s when we hear from some about the
way they absolutely think things should be, but they don’t want
to be around to pay the price or clean up the mess caused by their
approach to the problem.
blindly walk into the combination of illegal immigration and employment.
Simply,,, naively… even carefully… without picking a side or stand
in the debate. Offered as the centerpiece: All of us have heard
that in the United States there are people in this country illegally
that are stealing jobs from our country’s citizens.
the surface, this seems like a really simple topic. Illegally
in the country… opportunities denied to those legally in the country.
But do you have all the details? Just a few random questions:
you name five specific job areas being taken from Americans
by illegal immigrants? (Can you name three?)
the jobs where you are mostly likely to find the highest numbers
of illegal immigrants jobs that Americans want to work?
are the conditions and circumstances that are driving employers
to make the decision to hire illegal immigrants?
I’m not asking questions like these to bring this essay to a debate
specific to immigration and employment. Instead, I want to point
out that many people don’t have all of the details. They preach
and even scream about how awful it is that Americans are having
jobs stolen by people that shouldn’t be in the country. And yet,
they don’t know the work these people are doing… can’t identify
the citizens being denied these jobs… and have no clue about the
laws, marketplace, and other factors that brought about the situation.
to yell about the trash along the side of the road. Walk away
without cleaning it up. Expect someone else to clean it up. Unwilling
to pay for the trash bags needed to clean it up.
is nothing wrong with being concerned primarily with how your
retirement investments are doing. Nothing wrong with wanting your
trash to be picked up without property taxes rising. Nothing wrong
with wanting people to use the proper procedures for entering
the country or applying for employment. There is nothing wrong
with you having an opinion or strong belief, and within that nothing
wrong with it differing from the opinions and beliefs of your
family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and so on.
put: You can care about politics.
that turns and shifts is in the conversation aspect of things.
For me, to turn a phrase for the general concept, you have to
do the work. You have to give a bit in order to get. And that
means if you want to share your thoughts, and expect to be heard,
then you need to afford some respect to the possibilities of the
be blind and ignorant (and an assortment of other words and thoughts)
is insulting and truly naïve. And the way far too many people
are approaching issues is as scary as it is laughable.
you remember the classic saying that goes along the idea of it
being better to be thought of as an idiot than to do something
that proves it? Well, it turns out we have a lot of certified
idiots in our country. And they aren’t afraid of proving it, again
~ ~ ~
finished this essay and put it to the side for a couple of days.
I knew I hadn’t been to polarizing in content by design, but I
wanted to come back and view it after some separation. Accidents
do happen. (And, unfortunately, there will be those looking to
find much more in my words than intended.)
I did, I found myself wanting to clarify how I could: (1) introduce
my main idea in the title, (2) open with an idea that was more
generic, (3) swing it back to the main idea, and then, (4) spin
off into a conclusion that stated what we really need to do is
create a forum for exchanging ideas and then learn to listen.
(More or less.)
decided to add this little bonus segment and go back to the topic
I used as an example… immigration and employment.
you bring up the subject of immigration, many people immediately
shift to illegal immigration. They grab the microphone, offer
about four words (something like “they are here illegally”), and
stress one of those words (the “illegally”). This is followed
by a brief pause, a look that expresses nothing but smug arrogance,
and finishes with what the person believes is an appropriate and
that key word—illegally—is a very strong one. If we attempted
to bring the debate into a court of law, it probably is a finishing
move. (Cue smugness and mic-drop. Add a touch of snarky smugness,
say with an eye twitch and quick head tilt tossed in, acknowledging
my acknowledgement of the finishing move.)
let’s explore what I noted about a willingness for conversation.
It doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Doesn’t mean you’re right. Just
means taking in all the information, in a truly balanced exchanged.
That’s the learning to listen part. Or, more to the point in the
essay, respect the possibilities of the other side while understanding
that there will be a reaction to your action.
presented a few sample questions. Let’s say the “…here illegally…”
position wins and those illegal immigrants are addressed in some
fashion. For my thinking, you still haven’t addressed if these
jobs are jobs that American citizens will do, nor why the employers
sought out the staff they hired. And both of those scenarios contain
some very interesting and important possibilities.
in broad sweeping vagueness, the answer is to do things the proper
way. Got it. But don’t drop the mic and walk away. Finish the
you consider that the employer might be doing business with such
razor thin margins that they cannot afford to pay anything more
than they already do? That the unstable factors such as gas prices
and market competition might already have them on the brink of
you have. And if you have, tremendous.
if you haven’t, how will you feel when no American citizens apply
for the jobs? What are you going to do when the prices you pay
for things go up? What are you going to do when competition vanishes?
I need to begin moving toward a close by making this abundantly
clear… I agree with the idea of having people enter our country
the proper way. I would like for employers to do things legally.
I am by no means, in any way or shape or form, supporting illegal
immigration or the hiring of illegal immigrants.
I am saying is that you can’t jump on a soap box, whip the crowd
into a frenzy by pretending it’s simple, and then walk away. It’s
not simple. You don’t get to complain about a problem to the point
where it gets changed, and then get mad because others react to
the new way of doing things by doing things differently.
need to actually investigate and solve the problem.
all care about politics. Or, at least some part of what goes into
politics. But most people aren’t willing to do even a small part
of the work that keeps things moving in a creative, energetic,
and beneficial direction.